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Congressman Hoyer recognizes award-winning educators


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Photo courtesy of Mariel Saez. Congressman Steny Hoyer, Md.-5, hosted a luncheon Monday honoring local educators. Here, he stands, third from right, with Prince George’s County educators, from left, Mary Wall, Deerfield Run Elementary School principal; Lisa Hawkins, Deerfield Run kindergarten teacher and Agnes Meyer awardee; Cheryl Logan, Parkdale High School principal and recipient of the Principal of Excellence award; Albert Lewis, Walker Mill Middle School language arts teacher and Prince George’s County Teacher of the Year 2013; and Nicole Clifton, Walker Mill principal. Hoyer has hosted the annual luncheon for more than 15 years. This year, it was held in Bowie.

Photo courtesy of Mariel Saez. Congressman Steny Hoyer, Md.-5, hosted a luncheon Monday honoring local educators. Here, he stands, third from right, with Prince George’s County educators, from left, Mary Wall, Deerfield Run Elementary School principal; Lisa Hawkins, Deerfield Run kindergarten teacher and Agnes Meyer awardee; Cheryl Logan, Parkdale High School principal and recipient of the Principal of Excellence award; Albert Lewis, Walker Mill Middle School language arts teacher and Prince George’s County Teacher of the Year 2013; and Nicole Clifton, Walker Mill principal. Hoyer has hosted the annual luncheon for more than 15 years. This year, it was held in Bowie.

Published on: Wednesday, May 15, 2013

By Alexis A. Goring

Congressman Steny Hoyer, Md.-5, recognized 15 award-winning teachers and principals in the Fifth District including three Prince George’s County educators during a luncheon Monday in Bowie.

The educators included recipients of the Agnes Meyer Washington Post Outstanding Teacher Award, The Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award and County Teacher of the Year Award.

“Maryland’s public schools have been rated the best in the nation for five years in a row, and we have our teachers and principals to thank for their dedication to our students and our schools,” Hoyer said in a news release. “Today, I was pleased to recognize these extraordinary educators, and discuss what we can do to continue strengthening our school system and ensure all students can succeed, especially at a time when we are experiencing tightened budgets.”

Five educators from the county were present: Albert Lewis, language arts teacher for Walker Mill Middle School and Prince George’s County Teacher of the Year; Cheryl Logan, principal of Parkdale High School who was awarded as a Principal of Excellence; Lisa Hawkins, kindergarten teacher for Deerfield Run Elementary School who received the Agnes Meyer award; Mary Wall, principal of Deerfield Run Elementary and Nicole Clifton who is principal of Walker Mill Middle School.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. Congressman Steny Hoyer honored 15 educators from the Fifth Congressional District.

Photo by Alexis A. Goring. Congressman Steny Hoyer honored 15 educators from the Fifth Congressional District.

Lewis said he felt honored to not only be the County Teacher of the Year 2013 but to be invited to share ideas about the education practice over lunch with the House minority whip.

“It’s an awesome honor to be selected out of tens of thousands of teachers from Prince George’s County,” he said. “It’s very humbling. However, we do recognize the work that needs to be done, so it’s great to hit the ground running.”

Prior to teaching, Lewis studied to be a broadcast journalist. He is a product of the Resident Teacher Program, an alternative certification program offered by Prince George’s County Public Schools for people who want to teach but do not have a degree in education.

“I was in the 2010 cohort. We finished our work in 2011,” said Lewis of his experience with the program. “Maybe 25 to 30 teachers were in residence, where we worked on our certification, took several courses. We worked inside of schools to get that practical experience, and what is has allowed us to do was to go into the classroom highly qualified so that we can began to impact students.”

Clifton said Lewis is working hard every day to make a positive impact on his students.

“I’m incredibly proud,” the principal said. “I’m just overwhelmed by his presence, just his ability to speak so intelligently about student engagement, teacher evaluation system, teacher effectiveness, reflecting on the ability to really provide students with high-quality instruction from the teacher perspective.”

Hoyer has hosted luncheons for educators for more than 15 years — around the time the Agnes Meyer Washington Post Outstanding Teacher Award officially began being bestowed upon outstanding educators.

“I thought to myself, ‘You know, we ought to honor those teachers and tell them how important we think they are,’ and that’s how that started,” Hoyer said. “I do it because I want them to know how important they are to our society.”

Hoyer is an advocate for quality education that makes a difference in a child’s life. During the luncheon, he shared a quote from an advocate for education in American history.

“Frederick Douglass said, ‘It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men.’ He was absolutely right,” the congressman said. “It’s much more productive to educate a child, to have a child become a productive citizen, a participating, contributing citizen than it is to try to rehabilitate a broken man or a broken woman —somebody who feels alienated from their society and who does negative things and may end up in jail and cost us a lot of money.”

Hoyer’s staff members took notes on the conversation between the congressman and educators, which Hoyer says will be used to affect change.

“What we’ll do is we’ll take the notes and we’ll talk about what policies we can pursue to implement some of those thoughts, and also, I’ll bring their thoughts to the debates that we have on how to make education better,” he said.

Clifton echoed a comment made by many of the educators who attended the luncheon — and that was saying the luncheon was “wonderful.” But Clifton also thought it was a learning experience because the educators can use it as an opportunity to learn and grow as a professional through the process of reflection.

“I think it’s important for all educators, our teachers and principals to get out and experience this type of event with people like Congressman Hoyer,” she said. “It’s appreciation, but at the same time, this is another opportunity to reflect, for us to have a nice conversation in the car going back to the school, reflect on ‘OK, what’s next? What’s our next step? What’s our motivation? What are we going to do now?’”

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